Bosnia Arrests Dutch-Iraqi Suspected Human Trafficker

Published: 23 May 2024

SIPA arrest 220524SIPA officers detain a person suspected of human trafficking. (Photo: SIPA)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s law enforcement have apprehended a Dutch citizen of Iraqi descent suspected of orchestrating a criminal network that smugged more than 1,500 Iraqi nationals to the EU accruing a substantial illicit financial profit in the process.

The country’s State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) said in a statement on Wednesday that the detained individual, apprehended in the capital Sarajevo, is believed to have ties to a criminal syndicate operating across Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the European Union.

SIPA further noted the seizure of specific items that could potentially serve as crucial evidence in subsequent legal proceedings, although precise details were not disclosed.

It also mentioned ongoing efforts to document the criminal offenses associated with the case, in collaboration with the EU law enforcement agency Europol, along with police authorities from Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other participating nations.

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency UNHCR, a staggering 35,000 migrants ventured into Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2023 via the so-called Balkan route, a pivotal pathway for illegal migration into Europe.

Earlier this year, Europol pinpointed that in 2023, the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia emerged as the second most bustling hotspot for migrant smugglers in the Balkans and warned about an alarming surge in criminal activities along the Bosnia and Herzegovina-Croatia-Slovenia route in 2024.